This one is going to make a lot of Dawg fans drunker than the ‘Old Ball Coach.’
Marshall Morgan kicked a game winning 42 yard field goal in overtime after Tennessee fumbled the ball out of the endzone and the Bulldogs fought their way out of a rocking Neyland stadium with a 34-31 win that shocked the smokey gray Vols.
The win could prove to be the costliest in recent UGA history though as Keith Marshall, Michael Bennett and Justin Scott-Wesley all left the game with knee injuries.
Aaron Murray broke David Greene’s career SEC passing mark and finished the day 19 of 35 for 196 yards with 3 touchdowns, he finished the game with 11,625 passing yards. Greene held the school and SEC records at 11,528. Murray also had 53 yards on the ground, including a career-long 57-yard run to the Tennessee 3-yard line to set up a touchdown by freshman Brendan Douglas. Fellow freshman J.J. Green was forced into the number one tailback slot and rushed 17 times for 129 yards. Rantavious Wooten had 5 catches for 38 yards and 2 TD’s, Chris Conley caught 6 for 64 yards and a touchdown.
In addition to the game winning field goal, Morgan’s 56 yarder in the first quarter is the longest ever kicked against Tennessee at home and is the longest in the SEC this season.
The Dawgs took a comfortable 17-3 lead into the locker room at halftime but the 3rd quarter belonged to Tennessee as they scored twice to tie the game, the second TD came on a blocked punt deep in Georgia territory.
Georgia could not contain the Vols on three crucial 4th down attempts late in the game and Murray was forced to drive the length of the field with under 2 minutes remaining to tie the game on a 2 yard toss to Wooten with five seconds on the clock.
Coach Mark Richt had the following to say after the game:
“I really don’t have much to say other than I’m thankful we won, I’m thankful we’re leaving and I got my bag packed and ready to go so you guys can ask whatever you want. You can ask me about injuries but I’ll say I don’t know so just ask away if you want.”
On if he feels like last week was a celebrating victory and this was more of a relief to win….
“Yes, definitely. I’m not really in the celebrating mood so much, just thankful to escape here with a victory considering what happened.”
On the adjustments that had to be made throughout the game….
“A lot of things were going on. A lot of guys got hurt, a lot of guys couldn’t finish the game. I can at least say that. It was obvious to everybody in that regard. So players had to step up, young players had to step up. Mike Bobo, the play caller, he’s trying to figure out who is in, who can do what, what they know, and it handcuffed us just a tad bit, but we just kept playing, kept fighting and found a way to win.”
On if he’d ever seen so many injuries in a game….
“Not like that. It’s just such a shame. Guys work so hard, and we really went through camp overall pretty good and really had one of our best camps as far as injuries are concerned. Now I just don’t know what the carnage is right now. We’ll just have to wait and see. I purposely didn’t talk to Ron Courson yet before talking to you because I just didn’t want to say anything to anybody. I’m just not in the mood to talk about it right now. Soon enough we’ll find out what it is and we’ll let you all know.”
On Aaron Murray….
“I’m so proud of him. When you come back for your senior year after having a chance to go pro, you come back for games like this, you come back for your teammates, and you come back to try to win a championship. He’s done everything he could do at this point. I’m really proud of him, he just played like a champion today.”
On if this was a do or die moment….
“Whatever it was, yes, under two minutes anyway. We had to move it down the field to score and quite frankly the touchdown throw, the play really called for a fade to the outside and he didn’t like what he saw out there so he just jammed it in there, just stuck it in there. I didn’t know where he was throwing it when he threw it but I was glad that he saw what he saw and put it on him.”
On if the injuries took an edge off of the guys….
“I hope not. Obviously the guys that got hurt, it made a big difference for them. I think everybody just wanted to keep fighting. Everybody just wanted to step up and play. I’m sure some guys went from a mode of hey I’m probably not going to play today and then all of a sudden it’s hey I’m playing a lot today. That takes a little getting used to. I’m proud of Marshall Morgan. That 57 yarder was pretty spectacular and then that final kick. We’d still be playing if he hadn’t made that one.”
On what he said to Morgan before that last kick….
“I told him that I think he’s the best kicker in America and I wouldn’t want anyone else kicking this kick.”
On his thoughts from when they started their offensive possession in overtime….
“My thinking was that in the bowl game we just centered it up and kicked it and missed it so I wanted to at least try to advance the ball the best we could without getting too crazy. You can try to make a point but you could also get a tipped ball or interception or whatever. We knew we were in field goal range immediately. We tried to move it closer, couldn’t get it closer, ended up on the left hash, but we called the plays that we thought could get the yardage and Tennessee just bowed their neck and made some good plays.”
On JJ Green….
“When we signed him, we really didn’t know what he was going to play. We thought he could play corner, we thought he could play receiver. This spring we knew we had some issues at the tailback position so we just asked him what do you think about playing some tailback and he said okay, Coach, I’ll play. Turns out he’s a tough nut. He’s smart, he’s tough, he’s a very good pass protector, we all know he’s not tall but he’s strong. You see him finish the runs the way he does, he secured the ball extremely well and we know he has some wide receiver skill too, so he’s got some ability. Coming into a situation where all you hear about is Gurley and Marshall and maybe at best he’s thinking I’m fighting for the third string position and now today he was the feature back and came through.”
On if Gurley will be back next week….
“I don’t know. He really is day to day. Ron felt like he was progressing well. It didn’t swell a tremendous amount. We’re not counting out this game here. I would have to say I’d be really surprised if he couldn’t make it for Vanderbilt, but I think he’s probably 50/50 on this one.”
On the third down troubles they had on defense….
“I just got to watch the game. So many things happened. We got them off the field and then we flinch on the punt and give them 4th and inches and then they get the big play. That would have been a nice stop right there. It was 4th and 6 and then it became 4th and 1 and all that so we were getting off the field on that particular third down, but I just have to look. When you get a kick blocked for a touchdown, that score goes against your defense. That stinks. We’ve had three special teams touchdowns charged against our defense. I thought we got better, I think overall we got better.”
On if they thought they had worked out the issues with the punt block team….
“We thought we did, but they came and pressured. They’re not a heavy pressure team but they saw the possibility of let’s see if Georgia can figure it out. They came at least three or four times, maybe five. We stuck a hat on everybody on all the other ones and we were fine, but we had a guy whiff. He knew who to block he just missed him and you can’t do that.”
On Rantavious Wooten’s last touchdown….
“He just had a route that really the ball never goes to that guy on that play but Murray didn’t like what he saw outside and stood firm and drove it in there. It was a good safe throw, down and low, and if nothing else it looked like we would have had another snap after that. On the goal line when you throw that type of route, you want it to be from the belly button to the knees, you don’t want it to be chest high. A lot of times out in the field that same throw, you might want to hit them in the chest but on the goal line you’re shooting for the waistline to the knees and it looked like Murray put it right there.”
On if it’s hard for linebackers to see JJ Green because he’s shorter than average…..
“I don’t know, there’s probably a little bit to that, but I think when you have a guy that’s not very tall but he’s very powerful, a very strong kid. You hear that in football that the low man wins. If you get under somebody’s pads, you got a chance to dip and lift and drive a guy and he’s got an advantage about getting low on people. Not many people try to get under him when they tackle him so he has the advantage when it comes to the contact point and he just drives his legs and he’s a strong kid.”
On feeling confident with a fifth year senior like Aaron Murray leading your team on a final drive at the end of regulation….
“We never give up hope. I never gave up hope. I didn’t think much about it, but yes, I was glad Murray was there to do it, but no matter who our quarterback was or is at that time, we always expect those guys to bring us down the field and score. Murray has really played extremely well this year. I’m really proud of him. I think this was a big game. I don’t know what anybody else thought, but he played big.”
The Bulldogs are now 5-4 in overtime games including 3-2 in the SEC, the last overtime game was the 2012 Outback Bowl, a 33-30 loss to #12 Michigan State that went 3 OT periods in Tampa.